Ampelopsis japonica (Bai Lian)
Branchlets terete, with longitudinal ridges, glabrous; tendrils unbranched or with short branches near tip. Leaves palmate, 3-5-foliolate; stipules caducous; petiole 1-4 cm, glabrous; leaflets pinnatipartite, or margin deeply toothed and not divided, abaxially glabrous or sometimes sparsely pubescent on veins, pinnatifid lobes 0.5-3.5 cm wide, apex acute or acuminate; central leaflet of 5-foliolate leaves deeply divided to base with 1-3 nodes, usually winged between nodes, wing 2-6 mm wide; lateral leaflets not articulate or with 1 node; central leaflets of 3-foliolate leaves with 1 node or without nodes, base tapering, winglike, wing 2-3 mm wide. Polychasium leaf-opposed, 1-2 cm in diam.; peduncle 1.5-5 cm, often tendril-like. Pedicel short or flower nearly sessile, glabrous. Buds ovoid, 1.5-2 mm, apex rounded. Petals oval, 1.2-2.2 mm, glabrous. Anthers oval, nearly square. Lower part of ovary adnate to disk; style shortly claviform. Berry globose, 8-10 mm in diam., glaucous, 1-3-seeded. Seeds obovoid. Fl. May-Jun, fr. Jul-Sep. 2n = 40*.
Shrublands, hillsides, grassy meadows; 100-900 m. Guangdong, Guangxi, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan, Zhejiang [cultivated in Japan].
Halts Breast Cancer Metastasis
The more we research plant medicines among human cancer cell lines, the more we find that so many plant medicines will halt and even eliminate cancerous cells and tumors before they rage out of control.
The mechanisms for this are varied, but what is consistent is that nature provides the means to treat cancer – assuming the correct approach and the right plants and extracts.
Research from the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine has determined that an alcohol-extract from the traditional herb Ampelopsis japonica can halt the growth of human breast cancer cells, and thus halt metastasis.
For many cancer conditions, metastasis is the raging monster that needs to be halted. Once a few cancer cells form a tumor, they can send out cells to grow in other tissues and organs.
Human breast cancer cells tested
The researchers utilized the human breast cancer cell line identified as MDA-MB-231 – which is highly metastatic. This means that these types of cancer cells will quickly grow into tumors and quickly began to expand outside of the breast tissues.
The researchers produced an ethanol extract of the Ampelopsis japonica plant. This plant grows throughout Japan, Korea and China and is often called Bunge.
The researchers found that the A. japonica extract significantly suppressed the growth and migration of the cancer cells within this laboratory test. They also found that the extract inhibited an enzyme called metalloproteinase- (also called MMP-2) – this enzyme assists cancer cells in their ability to migrate to other tissues.
When activity from the metalloproteinase-2 enzyme is suppressed, the ability for tumors to expand is overtly suppressed.
Other MMP enzymes suppressed
The researchers also found that the A. japonica extract also suppressed the enzyme metalloproteinase-9. This enzyme stimulates inflammation, which also assists cancerous tumors from growing and expanding outside their current tissue regions.
In fact, MMP-2 and MMP-9 inhibitors have been the subject of significant research by pharmaceutical companies who are seeking to patent processes that have already been produced by nature.
Traditional Asian medicines have used the plant for the purpose of reducing inflammation and for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is also known to increase healing times in wounds.
These traditional uses perfectly coincide with the effects the above research accomplished, as suppressing MMP-9 will reduce inflammation, and suppressing MMP-2 will speed up wound healing.